South Charlotte

Chili cook-off turns into Autumn Festival

What started as a chili cook-off has become a day of food, games and entertainment, combined with the opportunity to help others.

The fourth annual Ballantyne Festival, Autumn in the Park, will be held 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 11 at Ballantyne District Park, behind the Morrison Family YMCA.

This is the first year the festival is operating as a charity, said Allen Starrett, festival chairman.

Festival proceeds benefit the YMCA capital campaign, which supports the programs offered by the YMCA, Starrett said. Participants also can bring canned goods for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.

“We felt like those are two great groups to start with,” Starrett said. “We want to enhance the community and do a lot of good along the way.”

The festival will offer a variety of games, food vendors and live entertainment, Starrett said. The kids’ corner will have a bounce house, inflatables, face painting and crafts.

This year’s festival also will offer the inaugural pumpkin-carving contest. Contestants will compete in three categories: kids, adults and corporate. Pumpkins will be on display for voting during the festival and a winner will be announced by the end of the day.

“The Ballantyne Festival is intended to be the signature autumn festival for the community,” Starrett said. “The goal is to expand it and make it better.”

A Ballantyne Festival classic, the chili cook-off, has returned, giving participants a chance to taste a variety of chili and vote on their favorite, Starrett said.

The Ballantyne Festival grew from what started as a chili cook-off.

New this year is “Charlotte’s Best Oyster Roast,” where participants can indulge in oysters prepared by Carolina Fish Market of Charlotte. Starrett said the hope is that the roast also will help the festival grow.

“We want to be Charlotte’s best oyster roast,” he said. “We expect it to be a draw.”

Food vendors include Elwoods Barbecue and Burger Bar and Cru Wine Shop.

Hours of live entertainment, including a variety of music acts, will start at 1 p.m.: Ballantyne musician Scoot Pittman will perform.

A cornhole tournament will begin 2 p.m. and is open to participants 18 or older.

“If you’re looking for a classic autumn experience, come to Ballantyne’s signature autumn festival for a good time, good food and good music,” Starrett said.